How to Claim Pole Position on Google in 2016 – Part 2
Did you know that virtually every internet user uses a search engine at least once a day?
Why? Because they are searching for something they want to buy, to find a price, to get directions or just gather information.
That makes the simple activity of ‘searching’ one of the most popular of all internet activities.
And while it may not be the one that comes to mind first, consider how many times a day you fire up your tablet or laptop or switch on your phone to ask Google a question.
GWI’s (Global Web Index) cross-device data on internet behaviours shows that 92% reported using a search engine in Q4 2015, Infoplease have it at number 2, after email, with 89% of internet users and Mashable have it at number 4, after social networks, email and online video.
(But as Mark Twain said in his autobiography (crediting Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli) “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.” And as we all know, 73.6% of all statistics are made up!)
Still, it’s safe to say that search remains a popular online activity and it’s one of the first places people turn to when searching for products and services.
So it’ important that businesses do all they can to improve their search ranking.
But there’s search. And there’s Google.
With Google out-performing its closest rival 3 times over, when we talk about improving search ranking, we mean on Google. 2015 saw them introduce the long-awaited ‘mobilegeddon’ update which penalised non mobile-friendly sites, a new quality algorithm for content and a hefty revamp of local rankings with the new local three-pack.
So how does this shape things for SEO in 2016? In our article ‘How to Claim Poll Position on Google in 2016’ we covered content and touched on mobile-friendly as one of the 6 ranking factors we looked at:
- “Front and Centre”
- “Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (E-A-T)”
- “Highly Meets” vs. “Fails to Meet”
- Content Continues to Be King!
- Dwell Time / Bounce Rate
6 SEO Tips to Improve Your Search Ranking
1. Mobile Friendly is Crucial
We looked at this in our last article but felt it warranted another mention. We really can’t stress enough how important having a mobile friendly site is.
2015 saw mobile searches surpass desktop searches for the first time, meaning your audience is no longer sitting at a desk looking at your site on a PC, or even if a coffee shop on a laptop. Tablets, smartphones and phone watches mean mobile optimisation is set to become the rule, not the exception.
Don’t believe us?
Mobilegeddon was a chance for Google to show their belief in the importance of mobile traffic, and they’ve even claimed a desktop-specific site isn’t necessary.
Still not convinced?
- Searches on mobile devices has seen a43% increase year-over-year (com)
- 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop. (Convinceandconvert.com)
- More than 2 billion people access the web from their mobile devices. (Mobify.com)
Content continues to be king, however having images with that content is also important. In Brian Dean’s article ‘We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO’ he found:
‘Content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images’.
While there’s nothing wrong with using stock images, creating your own unique images can prove valuable, if you have the means to do it. According to Cyrus Shepard, director of audience development at Moz:
“The same image can show up in hundreds of places around the Web, but having unique content around those images is what makes it stand out. I’m not opposed to using stock images to illustrate a point, but any time you can create something that’s custom or use unique photography, that will pay off more in the long run.”
According to Forbes: ‘Video Content Will Overtake Written Content in ROI for B2C Industries and Brands’.
Written content is currently the main way businesses get across their brand messages on a site, using images, infographics and videos as add-ons to highlight certain areas. However this is set to start changing in 2016, and Forbes are predicting ‘video will outpace written content in terms of reach, engagement, effectiveness, and overall ROI’.
This is partially down to audiences becoming used to more visual content because of video apps such as Snapchat, Periscope and Vine. Twitter recently introduced new video ads at the top of its user’s timelines and Google are experimenting with video ads in search results. Brands who don’t have videos will soon start to look outdated.
4. Site speed matters.
With all these HD images and videos it’s not surprising that site load speed is becoming an important factor. Based on data from Alexa, pages on fast-loading sites rank significantly higher than pages on slow-loading sites.
Make sure videos and images (and any extensions you have on your site) are optimised for fast download. You can check your webpage speed here.
5. Voice Search Function a Must
Voice search is set to be the next big thing, with almost 1 in 5 online adults using voice search and voice control features on their mobiles in January 2015 (across GWI’s 34 markets).
Teens are, unsurprisingly, the highest early adopters of voice search, with 59% doing voice search while watching TV and 57% when with friends (according to marketingland.com). For adults, voice searching is also done the most while watching TV (36%), then when with friends (24%) and while cooking (23%). A Google Study found voice search was mostly used to ask for directions.
The rise in popularity of voice searches has been spurred by Cortana, Google Now and Siri, advanced voice-responsive digital assistants from Microsoft, Google, and Apple. The way we verbally ask a question is very different from the way we type a question, and as such pages that contain more conversational content could be rewarded with improved search rankings.
6. Backlinks Continue to be Important
Let’s be clear on this, backlinks remain an extremely important Google ranking factor but the backlink approach has changed. It’s not about the number you have any more but the quality – just in the same way that stuffing content with keywords doesn’t work anymore. Basically always think quality over quantity when it comes to improving your search ranking.
Back to Brian Dean (the backlink king!) and his analysis of 1 million google search results
‘We found the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.’
‘Our data also shows that a site’s overall link authority (as measured by Ahrefs Domain Rating) strongly correlates with higher rankings.’
Concentrate on creating fresh and quality content on a mobile friendly site, and make sure you keep posting new, unique content and videos regularly. This will help you improve and sustain your ranking.
In future articles we’ll look at the impact social media has on search ranking and how to win at local search. In the meantime, ensure your business has optimal SEO strategies in place by getting in touch.
We’d love to help make your site mobile-friendly, create some fresh content or even talk through your link building strategy with you.